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North Road Bicycle Imports

Mikey Rides
  • P.O. Box 840—166 Courthouse Square—Yanceyville, NC  27379
  • Toll Free Raleigh, NC Area: (919) 828-8999
  • Toll Free Nationwide (800) 321-5511
  • Email:

Touring on a Retro

Nothing wrong with a Superbe for touring. We had a group do the C&O towpath in the fall of 2002. There were twelve (or so) of us (the dirty dozen) that slogged through a little rain and sunshine on the 184 miles of hard dirt canal path—many on internally-geared and retro bikes.

There were three reliable Sturmey-Archer three-speeds along, and plenty of Carradice bags. I'm in the neo-retro group—I use vintage equipment, where it seems better:

Primus Stove
the Primus Stove
I do like modern pack towels, stoves, etc., but the old standards are out there. The Primus Climber (also known as the Classic—the little brass cylinder style) white-gas stove has been around for over 100 years in one form or another, as have many others. (Incidentally, the truly stove-obsessed will be interested in perusing Classic Camp Stoves at, an online venue for collectors & users of vintage camp stoves such as those made by Primus, Optimus, Radius, Svea & many others. I've got half a dozen stoves I'll bet, and that website makes me want to buy 10 more!)

My sweetheart has a Superbe that she often loads up with groceries around town. The racks used on most of those that I have seen are actually a stamped steel platform with steel tubular legs painted to match the frame. Our company imports Pashley classic cycles from the UK that are modern (neo-retro again) three-speed style bikes equipped with a similar rack. They are black and could be painted—though the black looks pretty good, or good enough to paint later. We have a limited number of these racks on hand for a bout $40.00 (or so), if you would like one.

There was an informal group in Wisconsin, I think, that had a Three-speed overnight tour arranged over the summer. I think it is an annual event. Trophy Bike Shop in Philadelphia hosts the Great British Bike Weekend every Spring—that might be worth your while to attend. People showed up from all over the country the last time I was there.

I was in scouting in the 60's and 70's and I never saw a steel tent pole, but wooden ones with steel separators were common. (Speaking of steel vs wood, over in Portugal Xylon Bikes are making these cool wooden frames!) The tents we used were too heavy (30lbs+) for decent cycling, and we never hiked with them on backpacking trips.

Another nice retro thing is a Vietnam-era rubber coated poncho, army surplus. They are absolutely waterproof and weigh about 2 lbs.. Two, snapped together, make a huge tarp or tent (the seam in middle looks bad for rain entry in tent mode). Put together a visqueen ground cloth and a surplus Mosquito bar with a long cord suspended between two trees and you have a sub-4.0 lb, retro, tent/tarp rig that is cool, provides bug protection and is easy to pack. A nylon poncho weighs about a pound less.

Army shelter half-tents (pup tents) are not light, but are cheap and easy to find. However they also suffer from that seam in the top center that worries me. Canvas can be easily waterproofed with Linseed Oil or Paraffin and Turpentine.

I'm getting way into this (sorry) but you could also find an old Green Coleman cooler and tow it on a trailer to spite the cowboys.

Yours in Cycling,
Gilbert Anderson

  North Road Bicycle Imports
  P.O. Box 840
  166 Courthouse Square
  Yanceyville NC  27379 or

  or Toll free Nationwide 800-321-5511

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